Helping Your Pet Cope With Growing Older
Senior dogs often suffer a decline in their functions. Their memories, cognition, awareness and senses deteriorate.
The decline may disrupt their sleep-wake cycles and make them fidgety at night. They may also wander about and fidget more.
Like older people, animals may forget details, like the commands they knew from long ago. They may either become overdependent or, conversely, disinterested in affection.
Behavior Problems in Senior Dogs and how to Solve them
There is no question that older dogs go through change. If yours shows any of these behaviors, it is time to take action.
1. Cognitive Dysfunction
Your pet’s brain may slow down in several ways. He may become confused, or fail to recognize you. Also, he may experience changes in his sleep-wake cycle and forget how to use the potty.
Veterinarians will usually recommend the drug Selegiline Hydrochloride to counter the degeneration. You may also combine the medication with the behavioral treatment given by a dog trainer.
2. Separation Anxiety
Older dogs may become irritable when taken to new environments. They may display aggression and anxiety when left alone.
It is not advisable to keep a senior dog with separation anxiety in a crate, especially if it is not accustomed to being isolated. It may attempt to escape if it cannot control its bladder or other physical functions, and hurt itself in the process.
If your dog paces about when you leave it alone, soils your home or is destructive, it is time to manage its behavior. Your vet will try to identify underlying problems and may prescribe medication to aid your dog’s cognition.
Control your responses to your pet’s conduct. If your dog nudges you, you may feel tempted to give in because you think the behavior is cute. Doing so may cause it to believe that it is in control of the situation.
Change your routine to help your dog get over the fear of being separated from you. Use a different door when you go out, and leave your things in different places.
3. Excessive Vocalization
Your pet’s vocalization may disrupt your sleep or irritate your neighbors. The vocalization may be due to fear or separation anxiety.
Loss of hearing may contribute to his excessive vocalization as well. He may also whine a bit more if he feels the urge to eliminate.
If your dog still vocalizes when you are at home, seek the help of a behaviorist. Do not reinforce the vocalizing behavior; instead, reward it when it keeps quiet on cue.
Your dog may become less active during the day but restless when it is time to sleep. Eyesight or hearing loss may trigger its nighttime activity. Your pet may also have medical issues, such as problems with its central nervous system.
Treat its medical conditions first, then retrain it to resume normal waking hours. Keep it exercised both physically and mentally; give it lots of chew toys and take it out for regular walks.
A little loving kindness and effort will help your older pet through its difficulties, and strengthen the bond between you.